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Op-Ed: Guerrilla graffiti from street artist Skid Robot

In 2013, I started a project using graffiti art to speak for the homeless. I find it hard to grasp that on the same downtown street, one set of Angelenos can enjoy five-star dining and first-class accommodations while others a few doors down live in Third World conditions.

To be homeless is not to be hopeless. Everyone on the streets has a story to tell. If you take the time to listen you will discover not just the stories, but the fact that homelessness can happen to anyone.

That’s what I do.

On Sundays, when the city is quiet, I talk to the military veterans, the drug addicts and those who are simply too poor to afford housing. I listen to where they’ve been and what they hope for without being judgmental, which they tell me is hard to come by.

I met Birdman under a bridge in Silver Lake. He had lived there for 20 years. I built him a living room, and then people began to ask to take his picture. Within a week, he shaved and cut his hair for the first time in a decade. Soon after that, he went to a nonprofit to get help. Now he lives in supportive housing.

A lot of people on the street have had their spirits broken. But they all, we all, have an inner voice. Hearing it gives these projects intention.

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I’m an artist, not a social worker or a drug counselor. My art is a mirror. I want people to see their community as it really is. These things I’m painting and building shouldn’t be dreams. They should be provided to every human being.

Skid Robot is a guerrilla artist from Los Angeles. You can find his work at skid-robot.com, or his Instagram feed @skidrobot or around skid row.


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